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HomeArtA look into the captivating production of “Singin’ in the Rain,...

A look into the captivating production of “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.”

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The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” and the fifth greatest motion picture of all time, as designated by the American Film Institute. The 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain,” starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor, is made fresh and new via a chorus of young voices in Live Oak Theatre’s Production of “Singin’ In the Rain, Jr.”

“Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.,” presented in Collaboration with Mark and Sharon Taylor, will be performed from May 5 through May 21 at the Live Oak Theatre, a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) repertory company of local artists. Friday and Saturday evening shows will be performed at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 pm. Theatre doors will open approximately 30 minutes before showtime.

“Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” is a special production of the Acorn Theatre, which is Live Oak’s Youth Theatre program for students ages 8-18. This energized, youthful take on a theatrical milestone was faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends Betty Comden and Adolph Green from their original award-winning screenplay. Based on a film that won eight film awards and scored two Oscar nominations, “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” features hilarious situations, snappy dialogue, and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards.

“‘Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.’ has all the makings of a Tinseltown tabloid headline — the starlet, the leading man, and a love affair that could change lives and make or break careers!” read an event notice from the Live Oak Theatre. “In silent movies, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a hot item, but behind the scenes, things aren’t always as they appear on the big screen!

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Meanwhile, Lina’s squeaky voice might be the end of her career in ‘talking pictures’ without the help of a talented young actress to do the talking and singing for her.”

Vince Vanni, Acorn Theatre drama coach and Live Oak spokesman, feels that “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” is an ideal production to accumulate another winning dramatic season at Live Oak Theatre and at the Acorn Theatre! At the Acorn Theatre, participating students meet to rehearse on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6:30 pm. The class runs in eight-week periods with six performances at the end of each term.

The Acorn Theatre works together to produce and perform three shows each year, as well as participate in Brooksville’s Annual Tree Lighting. Its production team consists of rotating Directors/Instructors who are assisted by a team of apprentices in the areas of stage manager, assistant director, costumes, choreography, lighting, sound, music, and set design. Parent volunteers are always welcomed in these areas as well.

Acorn Theatre apprentices are chosen from regular performers of the Live Oak Theatre who have “grown up” on the theatre’s stage. They assume leadership roles in the production and mentor the students of the Youth Theatre.

“Actually, we are ENDING the season with this classic. It paired perfectly with ‘The Sound of Music,’ which is equally classic,” said Vanni. “The conservatory is filled with skilled performers, and we took advantage of it. The four major leads are all double cast, and each of them is a TRIPLE THREAT (Sing, dance, and act).”

Vanni sees “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” as a novel way to introduce a time-honored theatrical chestnut to a whole new audience. “The older generations have loved this show from the beginning. I personally remember singing all the tunes growing up,” said Vanni. “However, the younger generations are totally unfamiliar with it, but the students were totally intrigued. Recently, some of the parents caught a sneak peek at rehearsals, and it was really cool to watch them mouthing all the words and swaying to the music.”

As its title indicates, “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” is a show that brims with rhythmic tunes and lush, energetic dance performances, not to mention the dramatic and comedic stylings needed to capture the spirit of the original production.”This show is filled with tap, and it gives our lead tappers an opportunity to show off their skills, as they did with ‘NEWSIES,’” said Vanni. “I know that there should be a challenge, but we are blessed with an experienced student cast. My biggest challenge is in getting teens to become adults and little kids to become screaming teenagers. LOL. I am so proud of their ability to ACT. This is not a typical youth production.”
And when it came to bringing “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” to the Acorn stage, these kids did their homework. “Most cast members studied the film,” said Vanni. “We also had them watch YouTube videos of other teen productions and challenged them to surpass what they saw, especially in developing characters.”

“Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” is a specialized version of a theatrical classic. “This production is a bit shorter. Dance numbers are just as challenging. What Junior versions usually do is remove some of the lengthy dialogue between musical numbers so that this version moves quickly and holds the audience’s attention,” he explained. “At this point in rehearsal, the next few weeks are devoted to run-throughs to develop timing and characterizations and to continually add more energy to the musical numbers.”

Vanni regards “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” as a colorful and inspiring production, one that audiences, young and old alike, are sure to enjoy. “Hopefully, young viewers and older alike will be inspired by the energy of the almost 50 cast members who range in age from seven to 19,” he said. “I personally hope kids and parents will see the fun these kids are having and want to join us. We still have openings for our various summer camps.”

Tickets are selling out quickly for “Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.” Advanced seats are $20 for adults and $10 for children 13 and under with the purchase of an adult reservation. Advanced prices are available up to approximately 24 hours before each performance. Twenty-four hours prior to showtime, seat prices increase by $5 for adults and children.

For more information about the Live Oak Theatre Company or to reserve seating, visit www.LiveOakTheatre.org, email [email protected], or call 352-593-0027. Visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LiveOakTheatre.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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